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Gathering Cardinals Prepare To Go Silent For Conclave

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As the College of Cardinals awaits the arrival of its remaining members, conclave preparations were fully underway Tuesday at Vatican City. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.

VATICAN CITY – Some of the last visitors to the Sistine Chapel lined up Tuesday morning in Vatican City, all before it was closed to be prepped for the conclave.

"We were concerned that it would be closed because the cardinals meet in the Sistine Chapel," said Dave Cornelius of Asheville, North Carolina. "We were very happy that we're getting a chance to see it today."

The chapel will now be debugged and a new elevated platform will be installed. Seats will also be set up for the cardinals.

According to tradition first designed to prevent outside pressure on voting cardinals, cardinals themselves will be under a gag order, especially electronically.

"In centuries past, the kings and the emperors would try to influence who would become the pope," said Phil Pullella, a Vatican expert and journalist.

Church teaching says only the power of the Holy Spirit should influence their choice of pope.

"So they come completely ready to give up their Blackberries, their iPads," Pullella said.

Until the conclave begins, the American cardinals are the only ones holding daily news conferences, describing the nature of their pre-conclave meetings without breaking their oath of silence.

"To let people know. That means you, but also letting our our folks know at home that we are meeting day by day. There are interesting things happening. We're moving ahead. It's that kind of thing. Maybe that's more American," said Cardinal Daniel Dinardo of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese.

For folks like Mary di Donato of New York City, waiting for word of when the conclave starts reminds her of Benedict XVI's farewell.

"It's never happened in our lifetime. We've always had a pope in our lifetimes," she said. "Me, I think it shows that he's human and he can admit his frailties and he should, it was time for him to give it up. So I saw the human side of him."

On Wednesday, the cardinals will gather at St. Peter's Basilica for evening prayers, or vespers. Now, only a handful of voting cardinals are absent. They are still en route.

Dolan Discusses Conclave Planning On Radio Show


Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is among those who will take part in the conclave, talked about why cardinals are in no rush to set a date on his radio show Tuesday.

"I’m told 60 percent of the cardinals are new," he said. "This is our first one. I’m among that majority, so I don’t know how it works, but people don’t seem to be in a hurry. And I’ve asked some of the old timers and they said, 'Well, pretty soon we’ll say, "Hey, this is going pretty well. We’re getting to know each other well. There have been most illuminating conversations. Let’s set a time for the conclave."' See, I thought that would be one of the first things on the agenda. I obviously misspoke."

Dolan has said he hoped the process would move along so the cardinals could back to their business at home.

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